Immune response

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Understanding our immune system to prevent diseases

We study the defense mechanisms of the immune system against communicable and infectious diseases, in particular those preventable by vaccination. Our research specifically targets lung diseases, such as whooping cough, tuberculosis and allergies, including those caused by fungi and moulds. 

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Serological diagnosis or ‘immunodiagnostics’ is based on the search for antibodies produced by the immune system in the liquid component of the blood, known as the serum. By studying host-pathogen interactions — in other words the relationship between man and the infectious agent — in the immune system, we help to improve methods of diagnosis of certain communicable and infectious diseases in humans. 

In terms of immunoprophylaxis, that is to say, preventing disease through administration of vaccines, we help develop new and more effective vaccines, especially against lung diseases caused by tubercle and whooping cough bacilli. 

Our research also aims to improve immunological surveillance methods (or serosurveillance), that is to say, the evolution of the percentage of a given population that is vaccinated against a disease. We are helping to strengthen the control of certain communicable and infectious diseases preventable by vaccination, such as whooping cough or diphtheria.

In Belgium, we work in cooperation with the various regional governments, the FPS Public Health, BELSPO, CODA-CERVA, the FNRS (Fund for Scientific Research) and hospitals. We also work on various research projects at the level of the European Union or within the framework of the International Network of Pasteur Institutes (RIIP).

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The NRC Bordetella pertussis is a member of the EUpert-labnet network, coordinated by ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control). Thanks to this network, scientific information and insights can be echanged and commented on an European level for epidemiology diagnosis, vaccination and applied pertussis research. The NRC Bordettella pertussis participates in third-line assesments (‘ringtests’) organised by SKML (Stichting Kwaliteitsbewaking Medische Laboratoriumdiagnostiek) of Leeuwarden in the Netherlands and by NIBSC (The National Institute for Biological Standards and Control) in the United Kingdom.

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